How to Stay Committed to Your Fitness Regimen
January is a popular time for new gym memberships and renewed commitments to fitness goals, but by March, most of that enthusiasm will subside. Millions of people who vowed that this would be the year they finally lost weight or built muscle will give up on their goals, and throughout the year, millions more will abandon their fitness commitments after just a few weeks of effort.
Why is it so common for people to flake on their fitness regimens, and what can you do to stay committed to yours?
Why People Flake
Let’s start by looking at some of the most common reasons why people abandon their fitness goals:
Burnout is notoriously common among newcomers in the fitness world. If you try to take on too much all at once, working out like crazy or restricting your eating to the bare minimum, it’s only a matter of time before you become exhausted. Your motivation plummets, and you simply can’t continue.
Maintaining your fitness is also a major time commitment, and eventually, it becomes too much for some people to bear. For example, going to the gym, changing, working out, and coming home can easily eat up an hour and a half of your day (or more). Planning and cooking all your meals can add an hour or more to every day as well. If you’re already stretched to your limit regarding time, this can quickly become unmanageable.
Lack of results
Getting fit is a long-term process, taking several weeks to show significant results, but most people aren’t that patient. After a week or two of trying their hardest, it can be demoralizing to see little to no results.
Sometimes, the temptation to return to an unhealthy lifestyle is just too great. A trip past your favorite fast food restaurant, or fun activities that sound more enjoyable than the gym can easily tempt you to break your momentum and once that momentum is broken, you may have a hard time getting it back.
How to Stay Committed
Now let’s look at how you can stay committed to your goals more reliably:
Exercise in ways you enjoy
First, try to find methods of exercise that you truly enjoy. There’s a wide variety of different cardiovascular and resistance training exercises you can use, so experiment until you find something that works for you. Riding an electric bike can help you get exercise during your commute on a daily basis, while swimming can reduce the strain on your joints that typical cardio exercises can place.
Change things up
Even the most committed, dedicated athletes get bored if their routine is too static over time. If you’re going to the gym and doing the same things, day in and day out, eventually you’re going to get bored—and you’re going to want to give up. The key to avoiding this is changing your routine regularly. Incorporate different exercises, or do your cardio at different locations. Even simple changes, like exercising at a different time of day, or with different people, can help maintain your interest.
Aim for a sustainable lifestyle
It’s much easier to avoid burnout if you aim to follow a sustainable, long-term lifestyle. Too many newcomers to the fitness world try to revolutionize their habits overnight, becoming diehard exercisers at the gym and eliminating every unhealthy food from their diets. Instead, make small, incremental changes that you can manage over the long term.
You can also go out of your way to establish accountability for yourself—in other words, create a system that makes you more likely to stick to your goals. There are many fitness apps that can help you track your progress and ensure you build momentum when you do good things. You can also attempt to recruit a buddy or partner for your fitness goals, so you can motivate each other on your off days and hold each other accountable for your mutual goals.
Restructure your environment
Finally, try to restructure your environment to remove or mitigate temptations. For example, eating healthy when living with a family who continues to eat unhealthy can be very difficult to manage. Convincing the rest of the family to share your fitness goals may also be difficult, but it will help you all stay healthier.
Everyone has different motivations pushing them to keep moving forward, and different temptations and challenges holding you back. You’ll need to experiment with these strategies, and discover some of your own, if you want to stay truly committed to your health and fitness goals. But once you find the right combination of strategies and approaches, there will be no going back to your former, unhealthy lifestyle.